“...And you, you better run because I'm going to destroy you for what you've taken from me.” .- Samantha Young, Blood Will tell Toronto Life home: On the other side, the defense will argue that every action Forcillo took was consistent with his training. That he had good reason to fear for his life and the lives of the people on the street. TO FEAR FOR HIS LIVE AND THE LIVES OF PEOPLE ON THE STREET? (Rifle – Bazooka – Missile - Assassins) The cowardly murder committed in Sammy Yatim by the police officer James Forcillo is a reprehensible despicable, abominable… act of viciousness without forgiveness. The police officer knew very well that the victim never posed any danger in his life or in the safety of police officers on duty. Videos recorded by the public reveals the cruelty of the officer Forcillo; the extreme savagery to kill a helpless young person, who was standing composed inside of the streetcar. Also the same videos are showing the excessive brutality and sadism of a second police officer, who is tasering the dying Sammy Yatim in the floor of the streetcar. TORONTO LIFE HOME October 15, 2014 The Magazine | Digital Edition | Subscribe | Newsletters | Contests | Mobile App | Toronto Restaurant Search
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Here is the evidence assassins?
The Killing of Sammy Yatim
April 22, 2014: Peter Brauti, the go-to lawyer for high-profile police cases, with James and Irina Forcillo on their way into the pretrial hearing. Right: Forcillo with his daughter, Alexandra, and in a photograph promoting Movember (Image: Forcillos with lawyer by QMI Agency) On July 30, three days after the shooting, Irina Forcillo was in her car when her best friend called in a panic. “They released his name,” her friend said. “I’m looking at his face right now. It’s on CP24.” Within hours, reporters descended on the Forcillos’ North York home. Television vans and camera crews trying to get a picture of Forcillo and his family set up camp across the street. Journalists harassed the Forcillos’ friends, relatives and neighbours for information. Irina was bombarded with media requests through Facebook and Twitter, and a reporter showed up at her mother’s workplace. The Forcillos now have two daughters—Alexandra is five and Nicole is three—and it became impossible to get the kids in and out of the house safely, so they temporarily moved into Irina’s parents’ house nearby. Irina shut down her social media accounts when threats against her husband started popping up everywhere. One anonymous person tweeted “We know where you are. Expect us.” Police removed the most serious comments and continue to investigate some, but they keep reappearing online. “Fucking pig better go down for this or shit will hit the fan. I’m not fucking kidding pigs” and “It’s way past time to have an INTERNATIONAL FRY PIG DAY! There was no reason on Earth for them to shoot that boy.” Brauti received threatening emails, and a letter with a picture of the World Trade Center towers collapsing was sent to every member of his staff, suggesting that Forcillo’s actions were equally heinous. Forcillo was shocked by the deluge of online comments and news stories. He told Irina that he sometimes wondered if there was something else he could have done on that night. Mostly, she says, he felt betrayed: “I do something because nobody else wants to do it,” he told her. “I do my job, and now the same people who call in the cops to help them and protect them are telling me what I did was awful.” Immediately after Yatim’s death, Forcillo saw the department’s psychologist, which is standard for officers involved in fatal shootings, and he continues to see a psychologist today. Peter Brauti, who couldn’t discuss the specifics of Forcillo’s case, talked to me in general terms about police shootings and said he has noticed a pattern. “Officers don’t usually embrace counselling at the beginning, because it’s a bit of a culture of, ‘I did my job.’ Or, ‘I’m supposed to be a symbol of strength or confidence for the public.’ But then after some time, you see them become more open to it because they realize, ‘You know what? I’m not okay.’” Canada’s criminal code defines second-degree murder as the unplanned but intentional killing of another person without legal defence or justification. On August 19, just three weeks after the shooting, the SIU—which had interviewed streetcar passengers and other eyewitnesses, and had scrutinized all the cellphone recordings, surveillance images and security video—charged Forcillo with second-degree murder in the death of Sammy Yatim. If Forcillo is convicted, he faces life in prison without the possibility of parole for at least 10 years. It’s an unusual charge, especially for a police officer in the line of duty. In fact, Forcillo is one of only three Ontario police officers to face a second-degree murder charge since the SIU was formed in 1990. One of them, Constable Randy Martin of York Regional Police, was acquitted in 2000 in the shooting death of 44-year-old Tony Romagnuolo during the attempted arrest of Romagnuolo’s 17-year-old son. A fist fight had broken out on the front lawn of the Romagnuolos’ home, and in the struggle Martin shot and killed the father. The other case took four years to resolve. In 2010, David Cavanagh, a Toronto Emergency Task Force officer, was charged in the death of 26-year-old Eric Osawe after a drug and weapons raid went horribly wrong. While Cavanagh and Osawe were struggling on the floor, Cavanagh’s submachine gun accidentally discharged and shot Osawe in the back. The Crown, in conjunction with the SIU, originally charged Cavanagh with manslaughter, but the judge dismissed the case before it could go to trial. The Crown appealed, upping the charge to second-degree murder, and the case was dismissed for a second time—the judge ruled Osawe’s death a “tragic but accidental confluence of circumstances that occurred in a high-pressure and high-risk situation.” The Crown appealed again, but the case was dismissed for the third and final time this past April. Cavanagh saw a psychiatrist and was on medication for anxiety and insomnia for a time. He’s still a cop but has not been in the field as an ETF officer since the shooting. When Forcillo was charged, Cavanagh called him to offer support and suggested they meet for a coffee. “My first time meeting with him, I saw the look in his eyes,” says Cavanagh, “an aloofness that was familiar to me—that thousand-yard stare.” Cavanagh is blunt about how devastated he was by his ordeal. At his first psychiatric appointment, he was so discombobulated he left the engine running in his parked car. “Nobody goes to work thinking I’m going to kill somebody today. To have something like this happen is unbelievable. You read about somebody facing the same charge—somebody who robbed a bank and killed a teller—and I’m facing the same legal consequences as this person even though I was executing my duty. Trying to make sense of something that doesn’t make sense really causes the wheels to spin in your head.” When the charge against Forcillo was publicly announced, Yatim’s sister tweeted “Good morning JUSTICE,” and the city seemed to exhale a collective sigh of relief. Forcillo was arrested at Brauti’s office the next day and taken to a holding cell at Old City Hall. A few hours later, Brauti was in front of Justice Gary Trotter with his request for bail. Forcillo’s in-laws posted his $510,000 bond, and he was released shortly afterward. The judge included a 9 p.m. house curfew among Forcillo’s bail conditions. There was nothing for him to do but wait. The Forcillos moved back into their house after the media frenzy died down, and he stayed home while Irina worked. Forcillo was reinstated to desk duty last February but is not permitted to carry a weapon or wear his uniform. His assignment to Crime Stoppers caused another flare of outrage across the city. A Facebook group calling itself Sammy’s Fight Back for Justice issued a statement: “We are extremely disappointed that a police officer charged with second-degree murder of which there is ample video evidence is being allowed to return to duty.” Forcillo’s preliminary hearing began in April and lasted four weeks. Prelims give both sides the chance to hear evidence that will be presented at the trial. As is now standard in most criminal cases, the judge, Richard LeDressay, issued a publication ban on any evidence presented at the pretrial. This is done to protect the jury pool from being tainted—an increasingly difficult task in high-profile cases when viral images flood the media. In late July, the Crown added a charge of attempted murder, likely in case they’re unable to convict on the murder charge. The trial itself won’t happen for at least another year. The Crown will argue that Yatim’s death was criminal, that Forcillo cannot justify the shooting. They will likely focus on alternative choices Forcillo could have made before firing his gun. He could have waited for the Taser. He could have backed up to create more distance between himself and Yatim. He could have closed the streetcar doors. They will likely zero in on the fact that Forcillo was the only cop to fire, that he clearly interpreted the threat differently than the other officers at the scene. And undoubtedly they will hammer away at the shocking six shots he fired after his first three put Yatim on the streetcar floor as proof that he used excessive force. On the other side, the defense will argue that every action Forcillo took was consistent with his training. That he had good reason to fear for his life and the lives of the people on the street. That he was charged with the responsibility of making a split-second decision in a chaotic situation, and that’s exactly what he did. The jury will hear, among other things, about police training, rogue cops, troubled teenagers, illegal drugs, adrenalin dumps, sightlines, ballistics, biased media and cop culture. They’ll have to sift through a mountain of evidence, including a 90-second video that can’t possibly tell the whole story.